Next Tuesday, Democrats go to the polls to decide whether Secretary of State Elaine Marshall or former state senator Cal Cunningham will challenge incumbent US Senator Richard Burr in November’s general election. Though Marshall garnered 36 percent to Cunningham’s 27 percent in the first primary, North Carolina law allows for the trailing candidate to call for a runoff if the leading candidate fails to break the forty percent threshold.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the 2010 runoffs could cost North Carolinians up to five million dollars. In the last statewide runoff, only two percent of voters went to the polls. Cunningham, who claims fiscal responsibility on his campaign web site, could have made a lasting impression on North Carolina voters by stating that he could have called for a runoff but didn’t because it would be an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer funds. Instead, he called for a runoff despite being soundly rejected by North Carolina Democrats the first time–spending up to five million of our taxpayer dollars in the process.
Whichever Democrat wins next Tuesday, he or she has a significant mountain to climb to defeat Senator Burr in November. According to a June 3 Rasmussen poll, Burr leads a hypothetical matchup with Marshall 50% to 36%, and a hypothetical matchup with Cunningham 47% to 35%.